49, 50, and 51 Months Fulltiming: January, February and March combined report

So we are breaking from a four year long consistent pattern of posting individual monthly reports that contain numbers and info about where we went, what we did, how we did it, how much it cost, and how much drama was involved.  Bottom line: I have allowed the blog to become too far behind, and in order to get back on track I’m taking a shortcut.  Thus I present the first, and hopefully last, quarterly fulltiming report covering January through March of 2019. 1-sunset-1

The Distance:  3 miles, about on each month.  We stayed in Key West at the Naval Air Station Sigsbee Annex the entire three months, and only moved a handful of times between the dry camping and full hook up areas.  This brings our 2019 annual total to (checks figures) 3 miles.  2-route

The Places:  As mentioned above, we spent all three months in Key West.  So that’s 90 days at nothing but military campgrounds.  Since we were in the Sigsbee full hook up rotation scheme, we ended up dry camping for 57 and in full hook ups for 33 days. 3-jack-crab

The Budget:  Way under budget!  Specifically, 15% under in January, $17.8% under in February, and dead on in March.  Key West is great for our budget.  For some of the Sigsbee crowd, Key West is their splurge: in addition to maintaining a home wherever, they deny themselves little while here in paradise.  For us, it is one of the cheapest places we stay ($17 a night drycamping, $27 while in full hook ups, giving us an average of nightly cost of less than $21.)  In addition to that we are not moving, thus no gas costs for Serenity.  This is a big deal for us: our rig gets 7 mpg and we travel 10,000 miles or more the rest of the year.  Finally, we have markets, and quite successful ones at that.  And we stayed this far under even after paying 80% of the cost of an upcoming international vacation. 4-rose-water

The Drama and the Improvements:   Our buddy Stan spent several hours helping me troubleshoot and repair a few issues this season, with the big victory being his repair of our onboard generator, a big ole Onan Marquis 5500 watt machine capable of powering both A/C’s and everything else in our rig.  For less than $50 we replaced the fuel filters and then the fuel pump, which solved the problem.  He also worked on our highly temperamental automatic stairs, which will probably work for a month or so until they go out again, and reinforced our biggest slide out floor.  After Stan determined that our toilet was not reasonably repairable, I ordered an upgraded model and installed it.


It’s not a toilet, it’s an all weather indoor/outdoor stool with under seat storage.

We had some drama with Serenity’s starter battery going dead a couple of times, and are not certain what caused it since it is now holding a charge just fine.  We must have some sort of very light trickle drain on it somewhere in the system.  Lastly, we ripped out our front sleeper sofa: it had become such an eyesore after all the faux leather peeled away, and we figure that pulling it out will motivate us to find a replacement sooner.  6-sunset-2


Key West: The Markets

I held off on this until our very last Key West 2019 post since I suspect that the frequency with which we mention our market participation can become a bit tiresome.  But it is a significant part of our life and particularly important to our finances, and let me tell you, January through March were quite good for the Shell On Wheels marketeers, so read on if your interested or skip it if the sordid details of our roving sales has become tedious.


A cool overcast morning for our first on base community yard sale of the season.

During our winter Key West stay in 2018 we jammed three weekly farmers markets into our Wednesday through Friday mornings.  That felt a bit like having a real job, and after some interesting experiences participating in seasonal festivals, we resolved to shift our Winter market pattern in the direction of special events rather than weekly markets.  Besides, the Bayview weekly in Key West always felt a bit too pricey considering the crowd, the American Legion event on Stock Island shut down, and we did not quite gel with the Sugarloaf market manager, so the decision was pretty easy.  So what did we do?  Aside from two out of the fourteen Wednesday Sugarloaf markets and two on base community wide yard sales occurring during our three month stay, we participated in four special events.


The March on base yard sale was a bit different than the others we have done. Rather than MWR coordinating it, the base housing contracting office arranged for it in their parking area.

The first of those was the Big Pine Key Nautical Expo (which is not to be confused with the weekly Big Pine Key Nautical Flea Market just down the road.)  Held on Martin Luther King weekend on Big Pine Key’s Chamber of Commerce property, it typically draws in 200 vendors and a steady stream of potential buyers.  I am not gonna lie: not every vendor was happy with this year’s offering.  The people behind us were lucky if they covered their vendor fee, but we killed it!  We were quite fortunate in our site assignment along one of the main drags, which, frankly, helped a lot compared to some of those in the back rows.  Fortunately, we were able to lock in the same site for next year by paying in advance.  We suffered a bit for our success: the no-see-ums were quite bad.  Next year we will be better prepared.


Our set up gets more elaborate every season.

In February we participated in the Stock Island Botanical Gardenfest for the second year in a row.  The event organizers appear to have done more advertising, improved the people flow, moved all the vendors to a nicer area, added a second live music stage, and arranged to have more food options for the attendees.  All this meant we did nearly three times the sales this year compared to last time.


A nice grassy area surrounded by lush vegetation.  Much better than the dirt road from last year’s Gardenfest.

While working at the previously mentioned Big Pine Key Nautical Expo someone associated with the Boondocks restaurant on Ramrod Key let us know about a series of events with potential vendor participation in the coming months.  We skipped on the Spanish Festival, but made some inquiries about the late February Habitat for Humanity Island Grass Music Festival, and were encouraged to come set up with no vendor fee at all.  Turns out vendors were a bit of an afterthought for this event, and we were the only ones!  We had a great time, had delicious food, craft beer, live music all day, and one a few silent auctions as well.  Oh yeah, we sold like crazy most of the day. 5-sus-necklaces

Encouraged by our success at these seasonal events, Rose found yet another one via facebook: The Key West Preschool Co-op annual fun fair.  Despite the short notice, event organizers fit us in with no issues, and Rose worked to bulk up the kid oriented items on our tables, all of which resulted in yet another great sales day.  6-flower-headbands

So that’s it for Key West markets, and also the last Key West specific post until next year.   During our 13 week stay we participated in eight events, two of which were two days long, and sold a bit on the side to Sigsbee campers.  Quite a successful winter for us. 7-mm-crowns-plus